Inevitably, you’ll discover that when you’re pitching an idea to a potential client, their first question will be, “So, how much does this cost?” “It depends” is not an answer that will satisfy them. Truth is, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to pricing. What is important is that you’ve considered all the variables – including the scope of the work and how long it will take – before you give them an estimated cost. Otherwise, you risk being labeled a markdown genius who charged them less than they were willing to pay. Believe it or not, being over-priced is often the reason advertisers give for passing on your agency.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the under-priced product pitch. In this scenario, the advertiser thinks you’re too good to be true and will try to low-ball you in an effort to get you to agree to their price point. Naturally, you disagree and ultimately they say no. At least, that’s what usually happens when I do this to myself. So here’s what I suggest: if you’re going to ask for money, be specific about how you intend to use it and for what duration. Then, you’ll have a much better chance of convincing them to give you the funds to realize their vision.
Create a Blank Slate
Even though they’re not aware of it, when your prospect is reading your pitch, they already have a notion of what you’re about – whether they like it or not. Essentially, your job is to ‘blank-slate’ their mind, removing all preconceived notions about the topic at hand and replacing them with positive associations that will motivate them to take action. This process is called introducing a new idea. To accomplish this, you need to develop and use multiple perspectives to paint a more comprehensive picture. Here’s where diversifying your sources of income and having a second job come in handy.
Find the Most Positive Associations
When you have a blank slate, it’s important to give the customer or client as much positive feeling as possible. To best serve this goal, you need to find the most positive associations you can think of for the product or service in question. For example, let’s say you’re trying to sell furniture to residential homebuyers. You could start by brainstorming all the positive things that come to mind when you think about buying furniture. You’ll discover that the list is endless. That’s good because it means you’ve successfully entered imaginative thinking mode. Now you’re going to bring this list to bear on the task at hand. When you do this on a regular basis, you’ll develop the skill of turning negative thoughts into positive feelings. For instance, you’ll begin to see all the positive aspects of paying for college and what that means to you as a student.
One of the best ways to generate positive feelings is to put yourself in the customer’s or client’s shoes. For example, if we go back to our example of furniture shopping, you can imagine yourself as a homebuyer, reading the furniture reviews at FurnitureReview.com. After reviewing all the positive and negative aspects of various styles and makes, you’ll have a much better idea of what would constitute a satisfying purchase. Hopefully, this will translate to greater conversion – the ability to generate a specific action (in this case, making a purchase).
Delineate The Value Proposition
It’s not enough to come up with a long list of positive associations. To truly benefit from your brainstorming session, you need to turn those positive feelings into a specific value proposition, articulating the benefits your product or service provides. In our example, the value proposition could be: “Furniture that stands the test of time. With numerous styles and price points to choose from, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.” Now you have a clear, concise statement of what the customer or client will gain from your product or service. In our case, the consumer will gain the ability to purchase furniture that will last them a lifetime and provide a sense of security in case they need to make a sudden, unexpected move.
Research The Buying Psychology
To better understand your customers’ or potential customers’ minds and what drives them to take certain actions, you’ll need to enter into a research phase. Simply put, research is the process of gathering information about a specific industry, including competitors and customers. A lot of times, this involves speaking to people within the industry – including those who are disgruntled, disaffected, or dissatisfied with the way things are. (Sound familiar?)
Depending on how experienced you are, you can either go the easy route and do some quick internet searches or you can dive into primary and secondary sources, building an encyclopedia of knowledge, inside and out. One of my favorite tools for gaining insight is the ‘Behavioral Insight Editor.’ This nifty little tool, available as part of the SurveyMonkey platform, allows you to compile and export research in accessible formats – like Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. To put it simply, with a little bit of effort, you can turn these formats into incredibly persuasive printed matter. (Not to mention all the graphs, charts, and tables!)
Put It All Together
Once you have all the necessary information about your target audience and the problem you’re trying to solve, you can put it together into a winning pitch.
The above steps will get you pretty far, but you’ll still have to tie it all together, in a coherent, compelling manner. Luckily for you, I have a six-step process that will help you write the perfect pitch.
To start, make sure you’ve performed the necessary market research. If you’ve gone beyond the call of duty and actually spoke to customers, you’ll have a much better idea of the kinds of language they’ll find useful and the type of information that will keep their attention. You can also use your research to determine the size of your target audience. Knowing this will help you decide how many words you need to use to reach the right audience. Typically, a good rule of thumb is to use about ten words per every one of your intended reader’s personal and business relationships.
An important part of the writing process is to put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. What would you find valuable, satisfying, and persuasive about a brand or product you’re considering purchasing? To answer this question, you need to put yourself in the customer’s shoes before you begin drafting. This process will help you fully understand what they’re going through, why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how you can provide a solution that will satisfy them. (Hint: it always starts with a problem and a desire for a better way.)
Once you’re in the right mindset and have the data at your fingertips, the writing process should be fairly easy. As you work, constantly review the value proposition you came up with and ensure that all the information you’re using is relevant, current, and accurate. (Did you use five-year-statistics for that paragraph, or just three? Did you leave out an important relationship variable? Etc.)
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with the above steps per se. What I’m suggesting is that, in light of the pandora’s box that is today’s digital world, you might want to perform some additional due diligence before you put these steps into practice.
For example, you could run a quick internet search for the name of your product (or the company your product represents) and see what comes up. You might discover that your product is the subject of disgruntled ex-customers who have posted negative reviews online. In this scenario, you’ll want to figure out why these individuals are disgruntled and what you could do to make things right.
In a nutshell, the moral of the story is that getting a ‘yes’ answer from a customer or client is very satisfying. However, in today’s digital world, it’s not enough to simply get a yes-answer. Rather, you need to be able to explain to them why they should say yes.